HP Takes Its Mobile Data Center Out for a Spin

Hewlett-Packard is the latest vendor to offer a mobile data center for those enterprises looking to add to their IT infrastructure, increase their compute power for Web 2.0 applications or high-performance computing or create a remote disaster recovery site. The HP POD or Performance Optimized Data Center is the company's answer to similar offerings from IBM, Sun Microsystems and Rackable Systems.

ORLANDO, Fla. - Hewlett-Packard is beginning to roll out its new mobile data center called the POD or Performance Optimized Data Center, which the IT giant hopes will compete against similar high-density, mobile container offerings from IBM, Sun Microsystems and others.

HP first announced the POD in July, but the company is now beginning to ship orders to customers and is planning to take the mobile data center on a tour. The first stop of this debut tour took place at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo here.

Steve Cumings, the director of Infrastructure for HP, said that this type of high-density mobile data center offers customers a different choice when it comes to building out an IT infrastructure or when considering an off-site disaster recovery plan. Specifically, these data centers allow users to add more compute power faster to support technology for high-performance computing (HPC) or Web 2.0 applications.

"Customers are looking to expand their data center footprint with additional capacity much faster than adding a traditional brick and mortar data center," Cumings told eWEEK on Oct. 15. "It can take 12 to 24 months to build out one of these traditional data centers and in the case of the POD, we can have one ready to ship in just about six weeks."

HP's Steve Cumings walks viewers through HP's the HP P.O.D. mobile data center. Click here to watch.

IBM offered a similar scenario when it rolled out its own mobile data center or the Portable Modular Data Center in June.

HP does not expect to sell larger volumes of these data centers, nor does the company expect that these data centers will ever replace more traditional facilities. However, Cumings said HP has at least one customer taking an order right now - he declined to name the specific company - and others are also interested.

The POD is also a way for HP to build out its IT services division.

HP can set up a POD and offer a number of extras, such as consulting work, for companies looking for the optimal location to place the container in order to take advantage of space and access to power. The POD is also flexible enough to support other IT hardware, which HP and its engineers can then support and service.

At the Gartner show, HP showed off a nearly full container that supported 50U (87.5-inch) cabinets that were packed with 2U (3.5-inch) servers that were each made up of four compute nodes. A complete 8-foot-by-40-foot POD container can support up to 3,520 blade servers or a total of 12,000 hard disk drives that offer 12TB of data storage. An HP POD also comes equipped with HP's Insight Manager or OpenView to help manage the servers.

Click here to view images of HP's P.O.D. Mobile Data Center.

The POD is also set up with alternative hot and cold aisles for optimized heating and cooling. The hot air from one side is sucked up through the ceiling heat exchange, chilled and returned as cold air to the other side.

Finally, Cumings said the mobile data center offers a significant power density ratio compared to a traditional facility. In the POD, HP ensured that container uses 1,800 watts per square foot compared to the 250 to 300 watts per square foot typically seen in an enterprise data center.